Nociceptive Pain is the result of an injury to part of the body such as a muscle or a bone. When one of these is damaged, pain sensors (nociceptors) send pain messages to the brain along the peripheral nerves and the spinal cord. The pain feels as if it is in one place, constant and often aches or throbs.
Nociceptive pain from the intestines tends to come and go and feels as if it is in more than one place.
When the damage heals, nociceptive pain usually goes away – arthritis being an exception.
Examples: Broken bones, burns, bumps, bruises, a blocked intestine and inflammation (for example from an infection.
What is nociceptive pain?
Nociceptive pain is a type of pain caused by damage to body tissue. Nociceptive pain feels sharp, aching, or throbbing. It’s often caused by an external injury, like stubbing your toe, having a sports injury, or a dental procedure. People commonly experience nociceptive pain in the musculoskeletal system, which includes the joints, muscles, skin, tendons, and bone. Chronic (long-term) or acute (short term) nociceptive pain can interfere with your daily life and make it difficulty to move, causing mobility issues.
Nociceptive pain is one of the two main types of pain. The other type is neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to nerves.
Nociceptive pain happens when nociceptors detect something that can cause harm to the body. like a chemical, hot or cold temperature, or physical force. Nociceptors sense physical damage to the skin, muscles, bones or connective tissue in the body.
What causes nociceptive pain?
Examples of types of injuries that can cause nociceptive pain include:
- Fractures or broken bones
- Pain caused by repetitive or muscle overuse
- Pain caused by joint damage, such as arthritis or sprains
It can also be caused by an internal problem, such as cancer or a tumor.
Nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain
Nociceptive pain is different from neuropathic pain because nociceptive pain develops in response to a specific stimulus to the body, but neuropathic pain doesn’t. Neuropathic pain is pain that comes from damage to the nerves or nervous system. It causes a shooting and burning type of pain or numbness and tingling. People can even have neuropathic pain when the limb they are feeling pain in isn’t there. Phantom limb syndrome is an example of this.
Neuropathic pain can be caused by many different conditions, including:
- HIV or AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Joint problems in the spine
It can also happen as a side effect of chemotherapy.
Nociceptive pain and acute pain
Nociceptive pain can often be acute pain. Acute pain is a kind of short-term pain that lasts less than 3 to 6 months. It can often be caused by an injury, and it will usually go away once the injury has healed. Acute, nociceptive pain often feels different from neurological or long-term pain. Acute pain can feel more sharp and severe.
How do doctors treat nociceptive pain?
Treatment for nociceptive pain often involves treating the underlying condition or waiting for the injury to heal. It likely also involves finding the right combination of pain management strategies, which may include:
- Physical therapy to help strengthen and stretch the affected muscles or joints
- Over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Prescription medicines, like opioids or antidepressants
- Medical procedures, such as electrical stimulation or nerve blocking
- Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture or yoga
- Surgery to treat the underlying injury or illness